Imagine this . . . Children playing quietly with their new Christmas presents, wonderful smells of Christmas lunch wafting in from the kitchen and parents enjoying a quiet cup of coffee before family arrive. Or maybe your scenario looks more like this . . . children racing around the house screaming, a harassed cook in the kitchen trying to juggle all the jobs and super stressed with family arriving any minute.
Is it possible to navigate the Christmas period peacefully? Is it possible to reduce stress even in the most stressful of circumstances? Yes! Some of the more common symptoms of high stress are: fatigue, headaches, lowered immunity, sleep issues, mood swings, sugar and caffeine cravings, irritability, gut issues. How many of these regularly crop up in YOUR life over the Christmas holidays? Would you like to reduce your stress levels? Then read on!
There are two different approaches to reducing the impact of stress on your health and both are important.
Reduce the amount of stress you experience.
Removing stress is not always possible but we must do what we can to reduce our exposure to it. How do we do that?
- Learn to say NO! Do what you know you can handle and don’t take on extra commitments.
- Avoid people who stress you out. At the risk of offending ‘Auntie so and so’ put your health and that of your family first. Be diplomatic and maybe suggest that this Christmas your family needs time together.
- Limit screen time and get out into nature for a brisk walk, wrapping up warm. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels easing some of the physical stress that occurs with poor blood sugar regulation.
- Avoid pointless arguments which are totally unhelpful.
- Draw up a list of no go subjects!
- Don’t take on extra debt. Check out how to save money at Christmas online.
- Take a critical look at your to-do list. Is everything
- ABSOLUTELY necessary? Will Christmas be more or less stressful if you do/don’t do the last 10 items on the list?
Lessen the harmful effects of the stress which you can’t avoid.
Research shows that stress has many far reaching negative effects on our bodies and therefore it is up to each one of us to take steps to reduce those effects.
- Christmas tends to be a time of over indulging in everything from rich food to alcohol, chocolate to watching hours of TV. These excesses place huge stress on our organs, especially the liver and therefore I suggest that for every unhealthy binge add in a healthy smoothie packed with greens (email me for recipes) to offset the increased inflammation in the gut.
- Eat a rainbow of vegetables every day: 6-8 portions (women), 8-10 portions (men). A portion is 80g or a fistful. These are full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants which are vital for your body to function and repair itself.
- Be careful not to become dehydrated. Dehydration leads to inflammation and a higher intake of alcohol and coffee further remove water from the body. Sitting indoors with the central heating turned up high also dehydrates us and water is vitally important for us to function. Have a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks and put a glass next to the kettle to remind you to drink some water.
- Listening to music is scientifically proven to bring pleasure to your life
- Make sure you laugh a lot…play a funny board game or watch a comedy…laughter is the best medicine, releasing endorphins and reducing stress.
- Hug your family regularly…it releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone and is important for mental health
- Make time for yoga or meditation, reading a book, painting or drawing; whatever gives you some rest and relaxation and brings joy to your life.
The upcoming holidays are an opportunity to unwind, a time to relax and recover from what has been a tough year for many and to get prepared for the year ahead. This New Year we also begin a new decade and so I encourage you to take the time for some self-care this Christmas. Everyone around you will benefit from a calmer, rested and relaxed you!
If you find yourself over indulging anyway and need help after New Year, don’t look for a quick fix diet but invest in yourself with a long term plan for permanent change. In mid-January I will again be running my very successful 9 week Detox your Life online course. One of many testimonials is from Michelle: ‘I did Sue’s last course and have felt great ever since. I lost a stone in weight, my belly fat has gone and my friends have noticed
that I’m glowing with health!’